Katie Meyer

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The race for governor is only a few days in, but the negative ads are already starting.

Only minutes after Scott Wagner clinched the Republican nomination for governor, the Wolf campaign sent out a press release calling the York County Senator “the worst of Harrisburg.”

They also released an ad deriding Wagner as a bully, and included footage of various speeches in which he used violent-sounding metaphors.

Matt Rourke / AP

The state Auditor General is urging Governor Tom Wolf and the General Assembly to pump more money into the commonwealth’s child welfare services.

In the wake of a report his office released on child welfare last year, DePasquale has been repeatedly calling the system “broken.”

Now, he has issued his own series of recommendations for correcting a range of issues.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Eight of Pennsylvania’s universities have received the go-ahead to start studying medical marijuana.

Governor Tom Wolf’s administration is billing the move as the commonwealth’s “first step towards clinical research” on the drug.

The eight medical universities and colleges in question are:

Matt Rourke / AP

Of all the crowded races in Tuesday's primary election, perhaps none is odder than the one for lieutenant governor.

Usually, a sitting LG is in a pretty safe spot once primaries roll around.

But no less than four Democratic challengers are giving incumbent Mike Stack a run for his money.

For Stack, a former Democratic Senator from Philadelphia, the trouble seemed to really start with a press conference.

Matt Rourke / AP

With less than a week before the primary elections, GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner is voicing his support for a restrictive abortion bill.

The stance is in line with a recurring theme in the race—the York County Senator’s apparent battle with rival Paul Mango over who is farther right politically.

Jessica Kourkounis / AP

The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania is raising some alarm over a fee hike Governor Tom Wolf wants to include in next year’s budget.

Right now, hospitals pay $220 million annually to the state’s general fund under the Quality Care Assessment law, which started as a partnership to ease budget shortfalls after the Great Recession.  

The law is up for renewal this summer. And in his proposal released earlier this year, Wolf called to raise the contribution about 60 percent, to $350 million.

Katie Meyer / 90.5 WESA

It's a Tuesday evening in early May, and an elaborately-decorated lobby in Malvern is swarming with Republicans.

A number are state officials, or officers for the Pennsylvania GOP. Many more are members of the Chester County Republican Party--the group behind this particular dinner.

But the keynote speaker, and the name on most of the signs, banners, and lapel buttons, is a guy who still describes himself as a political outsider, even after four years in the state Senate.

Kim Paynter / WHYY

As state lawmakers prepare for budget negotiations, Governor Tom Wolf is once again trotting out a natural gas severance tax proposal in hopes of slipping it into the final deal. 

Matt Rourke / AP

Several state lawmakers are trying to boost a proposal that would qualify women with postpartum depression for support through Pennsylvania’s Early Intervention program.

Matt Rourke / AP

It’s almost time for lawmakers to start work on the state budget.

But after several cycles of tortuous negotiations made more difficult by persistent revenue shortfalls, it looks like this year might be smoother sailing.

Thanks to last year’s weak revenue collections, lawmakers were faced with a nearly $1.5 billion hole.

They finally filled it through—mostly—borrowing. But it took until late October, three months past the deadline.

This year, the shortfall is much smaller.

Matt Rourke / AP

In recent weeks, proponents of overhauling Pennsylvania’s redistricting process with an independent citizens’ commission have been frustrated as their bills have been repeatedly gutted by the Republican majority in a prominent state House committee.

But now, those advocates may be getting an unexpected new ally in House GOP Leader Dave Reed, who told reporters Tuesday, this is an issue he wants to address before he departs the legislature at the end of this year.  

Currently, congressional redistricting is done by the legislature, and the governor signs off on it.

Matt Rourke / AP

For the second time this month, a state House panel has stripped a bill that would have established an independent redistricting commission made up of citizens, and replaced it with language that gives the legislature even more power over the process.

Katie Meyer / AP

After commissioning an independent study on how to fix Pennsylvania’s higher education system, House and Senate lawmakers held a joint hearing Monday to debate which solutions are actually viable.

Fundamental differences remain.

Matt Rourke / AP

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati may not have to pay more than $29,000 out of pocket for legal fees in a redistricting case.

At least, not yet.

A federal judge has put a hold on the order he made after deeming the GOP lawmaker’s actions in the case frivolous.

The case in question was initially brought to the Commonwealth Court last summer by the League of Women Voters, who argued the state congressional map was unconstitutionally gerrymandered.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Governor Tom Wolf has vetoed a bill that would have created a drug formulary for the state workers’ compensation program.

Matt Rourke / AP

Pennsylvania is starting the process of replacing its voting machines. And at the state Farm Show complex this week, election administrators and the public got a chance to see what the new ones might look like.

The display comes soon after Governor Tom Wolf handed down a mandate that all counties upgrade their election equipment by the end of next year, leaving officials scrambling to figure out how to afford it.

Heng Smith / AP

A coalition of advocates is trying to get lawmakers to act on what they're calling a "horrific parental alienation crisis."

Marc Levy / AP

A GOP-controlled state Senate committee is making slow, careful progress at changing Pennsylvania’s justice system to focus on reforming the convicted and reducing prison populations.

The effort is led by the GOP Committee Chair Stewart Greenleaf, who is trying to pass as many justice overhaul proposals as possible before his retirement at the end of the year.

Greenleaf, of Bucks County, often acknowledges that his desire to change the system came later in his long career, after years of taking a tough-on-crime approach.

Matt Rourke / AP

As part of its announced effort to curb sexual harassment and abuse in the legislature, and in Pennsylvania workplaces generally, a House committee has held a public hearing on the subject.

AP

A new poll from Muhlenberg College is giving Democrats reason to feel hopeful about their midterm chances in November.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

The commonwealth’s Independent Fiscal Office has released its yearly assessment of Governor Tom Wolf’s budget proposal.

It reports that most of the revenue estimates check out. That is, if Wolf can figure out how to get his ideas past the GOP-controlled General Assembly.

The Democratic governor’s fourth budget proposal—and the final one of his first term—brings back a lot of the ideas he’s been trying unsuccessfully to pass for his entire tenure.

Key components are a natural gas severance tax, a minimum wage increase to $12 an hour, and a corporate tax overhaul.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

State House lawmakers have completed their final session in a two-week series of Judiciary Committee hearings on gun violence.

They were inspired by the call for tougher gun laws in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Fla. that killed 17 people.

Despite some agreement on the importance of the issue, lawmakers are struggling mightily with solutions.

They tangled over one proposal after another, from expanding background checks, to arming teachers, to mandating schools install metal detectors, to banning AR-15 style weapons

Jon Hurdle / StateImpact Pennsylvania

More than a month after the Mariner East 1 pipeline was shut down over safety concerns, representatives for Sunoco say they’ve found no problems, and that they’re looking forward to getting the natural gas liquids pipeline running again.

But state officials say they’re not making any decisions to put the Mariner East 1 back in service yet.

Problems with the pipeline began late last year when a rash of sinkholes began opening up nearby. In early March, the state Public Utility Commission ordered that it be shut down.

Matt Rourke / AP

Lawyers for Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati have filed an appeal to a federal court decision that the Republican must personally pay more than $29,000 for legal fees in a high-profile redistricting case.

The GOP lawmaker officially has 14 days to pay—but his chief counsel said he has no intention of doing so.

The case in question was initially brought to the Commonwealth Court last summer by the League of Women Voters, who argued the state congressional map was unconstitutionally gerrymandered.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

State House lawmakers voted to create work requirements for able-bodied people to get Medicaid coverage.

Such requirements weren’t federally permitted for Medicaid until the Trump administration changed the policy several months ago.

Pennsylvania’s state police force is reviewing its interactions with the federal immigration and customs enforcement, in the wake of a series of investigative reports questioning the legality of troopers using traffic stops to detain people in the country illegally.

Marc Levy / AP

Governor Tom Wolf and a number of legislators are pushing for a slew of changes to the state’s criminal justice system.

The call comes in the wake of a few victories for reform advocates, but in the face of opposition from a significant portion of the legislature’s GOP majority.

On the agenda are eight initiatives, including standardizing bail across counties, pumping more money into public defense, providing a clean slate for old misdemeanors, and a second phase of Justice Reinvestment initiatives aimed at reducing recidivism.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

The state legislature has moved two bills that would create work requirements and otherwise tighten regulations for Pennsylvanians getting state benefits.

As committee debate on the measures stretched more than two hours, protesters in wheelchairs crowded the hearing room.

They were from the Philadelphia chapter of ADAPT, a national disability rights organization. And though the protesters in wheelchairs wouldn’t likely be the ones losing benefits under the proposed restrictions, organizer Nancy Salandra said she’s concerned nonetheless.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

Trump appointee Linda McMahon made stops in the midstate Tuesday to promote efforts the Small Business Administration is making to pump money to business owners.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Democrat Conor Lamb’s victory over Republican Rick Saccone in last month’s special congressional election was seen as a positive sign for Democrats.

But it’s also a sign that in many working-class pockets of Pennsylvania, unions still hold considerable sway.

Rick Bloomingdale, president of Pennsylvania’s chapter of the AFL-CIO, said the group is working with local unions to focus on a handful of races heading into this year’s midterm elections.

Lamb’s new race for the 17th Congressional District under the redrawn map is at the top of the pile.

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